-Cursum Perficio-

A Psychonauts Fanfic by Digitaldreamer

Chapter Six: Regarding Lili

--

And here we finally introduce Lili. Oh, the drama.

This was a part I've always been looking forward to. Raz cares for Lili, of course, and he wants to keep her away out of worry that if his dreams are true, something bad will happen, and all Lili wants to do is stay. I enjoy enjoy writing the two of them, the moments of fluff, the angst having to do with the issues... oh, and foreshadowing, foreshadowing is fun too.

I also added a scene in here to show that things are in fact happening in Psychonauts HQ. Yaaay, first new scene aside from a few lines in this revision! Right, in that scene, Derek Westfield and Michelle James do not belong to me. These two are fantastic characters I've borrowed for the awesome and talented PsychonDirector, and I can only hope I've done them justice. Do me and favor and drop by her fics, as they are excellent and I personally think she deserves far more reviews than I have. So yeah, go read her stuff!

Um, right, on with the fic!

Suggested listening music is How to Save a Life by The Fray (track 3).

--

They hadn't seen each other in two years.

It hadn't been something either had really meant to do, it had simply been how things happened. Raz's family did move around a lot, after all, and Raz's duties as a Psychonaut kept him busy. Lili, of course, had school, and even with her father's job and fairly decent knowledge of Psychonauts HQ (especially considering she didn't work there until recently) seeing Raz had been impossible. Of course, they still kept touch through letters and phone calls... but even so, two years was a long time.

Amber eyes met jade and both stood there for a moment, frozen. "...Raz," She spoke, the word passing from her lips almost silently.

She had changed. But at the same time, she hadn't changed at all. And so when her dour face brightened in spite of her obvious attempts at keeping it void of any emotion at the sound of his voice, Raz wasn't too surprised. That didn't stop him from letting out a small yelp when she quite suddenly moved to embrace him. It didn't matter how many years they had been going out, Raz doubted he'd ever fully get over being at least a bit awkward about such sudden close contact.

"Er..." He stuttered out as she buried her face in his shoulder, squeezing him almost painfully tight in one of those rare shows of emotion that only seemed to come up in his presence. When he received no reply the teen couldn't help but chuckle and wrap his arms around her in return, the scent of her lilac shampoo hitting his nose.

Finally after a few seconds Raz reached up to take her shoulders and gently push her back so he could get a good look at her face, amber meeting jade once more. The two remained like that for a moment, breathless, before Raz finally managed to speak. "Lili... what are you doing here?"

Lili blinked, then frowned as annoyance replaced her initial joy at finally seeing Raz again. "What do you think? I came looking for you, idiot!" She snapped.

"Er... looking for me?" Raz repeated, blinking.

The brunette's eyes narrowed. "Well, what did you expect!? You just go disappearing like that without telling any of us where you've gone, and of course we're going to worry!" She snapped, hands going to her hips.

Raz backed away slightly, feeling himself begin to sweat. He hadn't counted on Lili actually figuring out where he had gone... and now that she had he was already beginning to sorely regret it. "Er... sorry about that. How, uh, did you find me anyway?" He asked.

Lili rose a brow at him. "Hello? Daughter of the Grand Head of the Psychonauts here. As long as you have that communicator, the agency knows exactly where you are," She explained, gesturing lazily to object hooked to his belt. "And here I thought you were supposed to be a Psychonaut. Use your head, Raz."

"Oh... er... right," Raz said, feeling his ears grow slightly warm. He had known that, really... it had just slipped his mind, that was all.

"You didn't tell anyone you were coming here?" Milla suddenly spoke up, effectively reminding the younger psychics that she and Sasha were in fact, still there. Her lips were pressed into a thin line of disapproval, Dart's unconscious body held in her arms.

"Er..."

Sasha rose a brow at this. "You failed to mention this upon your arrival, Razputin."

Raz sighed, shoulders slumping. "Guys, I'm not ten years old anymore. I think I can make my own decisions, I'm a Psychonaut. Besides, why should it matter if the Agency can tell where I am at all times anyway?"

Lili whacked him upside the head, earning a yelp from him. "Jerk!" She yelled. "Your dad was worried about you! I was worried about you! That's what should matter!"

"Ow... you didn't need to worry, I can take of myself." Raz winced as he clutched his gloved hands over the small bump that was already forming. This wasn't how he had planned on things going at all... granted, he hadn't had much of a plan to begin with, but this had not been part of it.

The brunette sighed, shaking her head. "Raz, we know you can take care of yourself. Even so, it wouldn't kill you to at least let us know you're safe," She said, her relief evident even as she tried to mask it with her annoyed tone.

"Lili's right, darling," Milla pointed out.

"Even with your status, you are still underage, Razputin," Sasha said, nodding in agreement.

Raz bit his lip. He hadn't wanted to worry anyone, it was just how the situation had ended up. "Sorry..." He muttered, glancing down at the forest floor. This wasn't what he had wanted when he had come to Whispering Rock... this wasn't what he had wanted at all.

Lili sighed, then reached up to pat the teen's face, forcing him to look at her. "It's fine. At least I found you," She said, flashing him a rare smile.

'But you weren't supposed to find me. Not yet.'

Raz forced a nervous smile, trying to ignore this thought. "Yeah... er... right..."

Sasha sighed. "Ach, one mess after another..." He muttered, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache coming on already.

"Don't worry, I'll call my dad, promise," Raz lied. "But for now we really should focus on Dart..." He added, casting a worried glance at the boy in Milla's arms.

"Ah, yes!" Milla exclaimed. "We need to get him to the infirmary right away!" She turned as if to walk in that direction, but paused to look to Raz. "But right after we're done with this you're calling your father and explaining, understood?" She said, as if she already read the boy's mind on the subject.

"Alright, alright, I get it!" Raz exclaimed, rolling his eyes. "Sheesh." The two older Psychonauts shared a look, then nodded and headed for the infirmary. The teen cast a gloomy expression heavenward, then made as if to follow.

"Hello, I'm still here!" Lili spoke up, her hands still on her hips.

Raz blinked, glancing back to her and feeling a blush creep across his cheeks again. "Oh... er... well... thanks for checking up on me, Lili, but as you can see, I'm fine, so you can... er, go now. No need to worry."

The brunette's eyes narrowed. "Um, excuse me, but did you just tell me to leave?" She demanded, danger evident in her tone.

"I'm glad to hear you care and all," The Psychonaut continued as if she hadn't spoken. "But as you can see we're kind of busy right now. If you want to come by some other time and visit that'd be great, but--"

"Excuse me!?" Lili snapped, cutting him off. "I don't know what you're talking about. I'm staying here."

Raz paused in mid-sentence, his index finger still poised in the air as if he were making a point. "What?"

"You heard me. I'm staying," She repeated, her lips pressed into a thin line, arms crossed before her. "Someone has to make sure you don't get yourself killed, you know."

"But... but..." The goggle-headed boy stuttered, his jade green eyes widening.

Lili quirked a brow. "What? It seems like you guys could use some help around here anyway. I'm sure Oleander won't--"

"You can't stay," Raz cut her off, his voice heavy with grim finality.

"...What do you mean?" The pig-tailed girl asked, brow furrowing.

"You can't stay," He repeated, shaking his head.

Lili frowned, folding her arms before her. "Why on earth not?"

Raz shook his head again. "I... I can't explain. You... you just can't, alright?"

She stared at him in silence for a moment. Then she let out a small, almost bitter laugh. "What? Look, Raz, I'm not busy or anything, and I know things are understaffed here, they always are. Do you really not want to see me that badly? Do you--"

"NO!" He cried, cutting her off. She blinked at him and he shook his head, looking away from her. "No, that's not it, really." Seeing her, embracing her after so long... it had made him happier than he had been in ages. Even if he hadn't seen her in two years, even if he had been so terrified that they had been drifting, he was happy to see her. Had this been under different circumstances, he would have loved to have her stay. To be a counselor at Whispering Rock with Lili would be a dream come true!

But unfortunately for him, he had other dreams. And he most definitely didn't want those to become a reality.

She glared at him. "Then what is it, Raz? What's wrong with me being here? What's the problem with me?" She demanded coldly. However, even as she spoke, her mask was splintering a bit.

She was hurt.

Raz winced. "Nothing! There's no problem with you! It's... it's just... GAH!" He cried in frustration, gritting his teeth. He reached out to grab Lili's shoulders, shaking her slightly. "I can't explain it, okay? That's the problem! I can't explain it! But you can't be here, you just can't, because I can't tell you why, alright!? You weren't supposed to come! You weren't supposed to find me! You weren't supposed to come but you did, and now... damnit, what am I supposed to do!?"

Why did everyone keep trying to get involved? He'd been able to handle things on his own before, he always had! Granted, before he had been willing to take help, but why couldn't everyone else see this was different? He didn't know what was in these dreams exactly... but he could remember them, could remember her dying easily enough. And it was his fault.

He couldn't let that become a reality.

Lili stared him, frozen in shock, as he stood there with his grip tight on her shoulders, panting for breath. For just a moment the mask had fallen away to reveal the terrified green eyes of a little boy, trapped and helpless. "Please... please, just leave." He pleaded softly.

"...I can't, Raz." She whispered back.

Raz released her shoulders and turned away, the ends of his scarf billowing out behind him as he strode back towards the path that lead out of the woods. "I have to go see Dart," He stated in a tone void of any emotion, leaves crunching beneath his feet.

Lili watched him go for a moment, frozen. The finally after a few seconds she shook her head, the motion seeming to break the spell. "Raz!" She called after him, reaching out as if to stop him. "Wait up!"

He kept walking.

--

"Welcome to the Psychonauts HQ Database. How may I be of assistance?" A cool, computerized voice rang through the cavern that made up Ford's sanctuary.

Ford couldn't help but give a triumphant chuckle at this. Back when he had been the Grand Head of the Psychonauts, such information would have been available at the blink of an eye. However, given the fact that the agency had written him off years ago, such a feat required some rather creative hacking. "You still got it, you ol' loon," He congratulated himself before focusing on the screen hovering before him. "Let me see the file of Agent Aquato."

"Certainly." The sounds of several beeps and whirs filled the room as the computer tried to process Ford's request. After a few moments Raz's picture came up on screen, along with extensive information.

"Well then... let's see if we can find out exactly why the 'Anti-Kidnapping Specialist' hasn't been receiving any info for his line of work," Ford muttered as he skimmed through the file.

Birthdate, blood type, boring, boring... ah, there it was. Recent missions.

Ford frowned as he glanced over this information. "...Odd. Why doesn't he have anything listed since Ferrowbrooks?" He mused aloud. "I know that kid's had missions since then... really small ones, but he's had 'em... no comments on why they don't have anything listed or anything..."

Now, perhaps one could simply chalk it up on poor data-keeping, such as perhaps the missions Raz had been assigned hadn't been considered important enough to write down, or perhaps the computerized files simply hadn't been updated in awhile. However, Ford hadn't become Grand Head of the Psychonauts by simply assuming coincidence. "Strange... it's not as if they have any reason to not assign him anything. He's had top marks and recommendations for everything..." He muttered as he scrolled further down. "A kid this talented isn't one they'd waste on trivial missions and then not even record those... nope, somethings definitely fishy here."

All too soon, however, he reached the end of the file. And even then, there was nothing. While most files had fairly detailed notes over every mission, this had nothing. Just the name, Ferrowbrooks.

"Say... is there any information you're not giving me?" Ford asked the computer, drumming his fingers absently on the keyboard.

"That is all the information on Agent Aquato, sir. There are no further files or notes."

"Hm... so nothin' on why he has no missions recorded, then?"

"Agent Aquato's last mission was the Ferrowbrooks case, sir."

"...I see." Ford frowned as he stared at the end of the page, thinking over this. Why wasn't the agency recording Raz's missions? And why was nothing recorded of what had happened in Ferrowbrooks, either? It didn't make any sense, Raz had one of the more important roles in that mess... so why was nothing listed?

Psychonauts did not just stop getting missions. Either they died, they lost their minds, or...well, that was it. No one ever really retired, and even then, if they claimed to there was always a note. But Raz didn't have anything. It was almost like the agency were treating him as if after Ferrowbrooks he had just stopped being an agent.

And that wasn't right, because you didn't stop being a Psychonaut. You just didn't.

Ford sighed, touching a hand to his head. "And the rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper..." He groaned as he made as if to close the database. "And yet I'm still not getting any answers."

"Is there anything else you would like, sir?" The computerized voice asked.

The old man shook his head. "No, that's--" He then paused suddenly, brow furrowing. "Actually... get me any files you have on the Ferrowbrooks case."

"Yes sir."

Ford nodded grimly as the computer beeped and whirred once again. "Before I go any further, maybe I should see exactly how straight the agency has their story..."

--

Derek Westfield really wasn't sure how he kept getting shoehorned into these things.

As a Psychonaut he had been through plenty of missions filling with danger and daring, he had saved plenty of lives, and he was quite skilled in cyrokinesis. So how was it he once again found himself stuck behind the receptionist desk tapping a pen rhythmically against the fake marble top, gazing dully at the clock and fighting the urge to pass out and drool all over his files?

Oh, right. Because the girl who had batted her eyelashes at him and asked him to take over her shift was his friend.

And she was hot, but that wasn't the point. Really.

The man gave a groan as he slumped back in his chair. Why was he even here? There was no one in the waiting room, the small TV hanging from the ceiling was out, and the elevator music drifting through the room was enough to cause anyone to go into a homicidal rampage. He supposed he had papers he could file, but he really, really did not feel up to it. No, what he felt up to right now was calling up a certain girl and asking her if she'd like to go out for some coffee after the torture she was putting him through now.

The front doors of the agency suddenly slid open, though Derek made no attempt at sitting up and appearing professional. "Take a number and then a seat," He groaned. "I'll be with you shortly." 'Once I get over dying from boredom,' he added mentally.

"Well, ain't you a sorry sight?"

Derek blinked at the heavy Southern accent, then glanced up to a see a Chinese woman with long black hair tied into a bun, her delicate figure complimented by a dark blue suit. Most would have been jarred by the ridiculously mismatched voice and face, but Derek's eyes widened in recognition as he forced himself to sit up. "M-Michelle!" He gasped.

The Chinese woman smirked as she put her hands on her hips. "Y'know, when I asked you to take over my shift, I didn't except to see y'all laying there dead as a doornail."

"You wouldn't," Derek said dryly as he propped his chin in his palm. "You're not the one stuck behind the desk on what has to be one of the slowest days in Headquarters ever."

One beautiful, thin eyebrow arched high as Michelle's smirk widened . "Really? Well, I'm sorry, I didn't know y'all were so thin-skinned. If ya want, I can--"

"No," Derek said flatly. "And have you taunting me for weeks? I think not."

Michelle laughed. "Aw, you know me far too well."

The unwilling receptionist sighed. "Alright, what brings you here? I doubt you came just to taunt me about my imminent death from boredom."

"Well, you'd be right," Michelle leaned forward on the desk, batting her eyelashes. "Darling, I don't suppose y'all could do me a favor and hand me all those recent files on the uncharted psychic activity and those terrorists, could ya?"

Derek frowned, brow furrowing. "Those files? You mean the ones about the weird psychic signatures people keep sensing around here? I'm... pretty sure that's illegal Michelle, I haven't even filed them yet."

Michelle pouted, putting her hands on her hips. "Awww, come on! It's not like you need 'em! I only want to see 'em for a little while, I'll bring 'em right back! The higher ups'll never notice! You know they're way too busy these days!"

Her friend scratched the back of his head. "I don't know, Michelle--"

The Chinese woman suddenly grasped his wrist, her face inches away from his. "Pleeeeeaaaase, darlin'?" She gushed in a singsong tone. Derek flushed, he could smell her shampoo, could feel her warm breath on his face. "I'll take y'all out to dinner!"

"A-alright, alright!" Derek gasped as he moved back, shaking his head. Stay calm, Derek, calm! The man gave a sigh as he adjusted his suit. "It'd better be a damn good dinner, though. I'm breaking protocol on your shift here," He muttered as he began to thumb through the various piles of papers sitting on the desk.

Michelle grinned. "It'll be the best ya ever had, I promise!"

"I'll hold you to that," Derek said, offering a smile as he handed the papers to her.

""Thank ya, darlin'!" Michelle winked as she took the papers and looked them over.

Derek frowned at this motion as he leaned on the desk again. "Er... Michelle... are you feeling alright?"

The Chinese woman frowned, glancing up from the papers. "What do you mean, darlin'?"

"Er... you just..." Derek shook his head, trying to ignore the way his stomach flipflopped at her voice. "You've been acting... funny lately, that's all."

Michelle flashed a smile that caused his heart to melt. "Have I?"

"Er..." The young man shook his head, waving his hand in a nonchalant manner. "Nevermind..."

His friend gave a chuckle at this, then went back to looking over the papers. Appearing satisfied, she nodded and looked back to him. "Alright, well, I'm off! I'll come ta rescue y'all when my shift's over, m'kay?" She said as she turned and began to walk away, heels clicking against the floor.

"Ah, right..." Derek frowned as he gazed at the woman's retreating back. "Hey, Michelle?" He called out suddenly.

Michelle paused at the door, blinking. "Yeah?"

Derek began to tap his pen against the desk again. "Your eyes are brown, aren't they?"

"Yeah, why d'ya ask?" The woman asked, quirking a brow.

"...No reason. I just could have sworn they were blue for a second, that's all," Derek said as he slumped back in his chair. "Must've been my imagination. I'll see you at eleven." Michelle smiled and nodded, then turned and headed through the door.

Derek never noticed the way her smile changed to a smirk, her eyes flashing sapphire as she clutched the files a bit tighter.

--

It was nightfall by the time Raz finally came out of the lodge. With his clothes and hair rumpled, his goggles now hanging around his neck instead of on his head, and his face one of utter exhaustion, he definitely looked worse for wear. The teen surveyed the area, then let out a sigh.

There at the edge of the stone deck stood Lili, her back to the lodge. She was staring off into the distance, her long pigtails and skirt billowing in the summer night breeze.

So, she hadn't left.

The brunette glanced over her shoulder at his entrance, raising a brow. "So, how's the kid? Is he gonna be okay?" She asked quietly.

Raz shook his head. "I'm not sure. He doesn't appear hurt anywhere, but he won't wake up... he's just like Kiki was," He said, raking a gloved hand through his hair as he gazed back at the main lodge sadly.

"Oh...well, that's a shame," Lili murmured, turning back to the stars as she absently fiddled with a frayed bracelet around her right wrist. The cloth it had been woven from and the gaudy charms sewn into it were old and faded by now, but one could easily see they had been cared for.

"You still have that?" Raz asked as he walked to her side, gesturing to the bracelet.

Lili blinked, then glanced down at the bracelet, apparently having not noticed she'd been fiddling with it. Her face immediately colored and she let her hands fall back to her side, eyes narrowing slightly. "Yeah, it's ugly but I keep it anyway, so what?" She snapped, sounding defensive. "I don't see you wearing yours. Did you lose it?"

Raz chuckled at this, scratching the back of his head. "Um... well, don't be mad, but there was this one time where we had a bonfire after a show and, uh, well..."

"RAZ!" Lili shrieked, her hands balling into fists, her expression changing from annoyed to positively livid. "You burned my bracelet!?"

The teenage Psychonaut was only capable of keeping a straight face for all of five seconds. Then he promptly burst into laughter, the sound echoing throughout the night. Lili stared at him, dumbfounded, which only seemed to make Raz laugh harder. "I can't believe you fell for that!" He cried through guffaws as he held up his right arm. He pulled back his coat sleeve to reveal a frayed green friendship bracelet. "You really think I'd let this thing burn!? No way! I risked hell and high water just getting the thing!"

Lili continued to stare at him for a moment before her face turned red again. "You... you... dorkface!" She stuttered. This only caused Raz to laugh even harder, doubling over from laughing so hard. As Lili watched him, she found herself giggling. She couldn't help it, he just looked so funny. This, of course, only caused Raz laugh even more, and before they knew it to the two of them were leaning against each other for support, laughing so hard there were tears in their eyes.

Finally after a few minutes of this their laughter subsided enough for Lili to speak. "It... that wasn't funny at all... jerk," She panted.

"Heh... then why were you laughing?" Raz asked with a wry grin.

"Because... because you were, idiot." She replied, though she was grinning as well.

The two remained like that for a moment, their foreheads pressed together as they tried to regain their breath. "Sorry... you're just... you're funny when you're mad," Raz finally said warmly.

"It's alright," Lili giggled. "I haven't laughed like that in awhile."

Raz's smile widened. "Yeah. Me either."

Amber eyes remained fixated on jade, and Raz swallowed as he felt his mouth go dry, suddenly noticing how close they were. He could smell her lilac shampoo again, he could see the make-up so much more expertly applied to her face. Little strands of her hair were sticking to his forehead where they touched, her bangs framing her face, the moonlight seeming to give her an ethereal sort of glow. He could feel butterflies flapping around in his stomach, felt his cheeks grow slightly warm as he stared, frozen.

Lili's eyes fluttered closed and she moved as if to kiss him... but he brought up two fingers to press them to her lips, stopping her. "No, Lili," He said, shaking his head. The boy forced himself to take a step back, breaking the spell.

Lili's eyes narrowed slightly. "Why not?" She demanded, her hands going to her hips. "We're still boyfriend and girlfriend, aren't we?"

Raz blinked. "Of course we are!"

"Then why won't you kiss me? Do you not like me anymore or something?" She asked, cocking her head to the side.

"No!" Raz cried. She continued to glare at him and he sighed, shoulders slumping. "No... no, that's not it. I do like you. But that's why I can't, I've already told you."

Silence for a moment.

"What the... damnit Raz!" Lili snapped, her hands clenching into fists. "What's up with you!? First you act like you're happy to see me, then you turn around and act like you don't! And then you go around acting all cryptic and crap, what the hell!? Why are you keeping things from me!? Don't you trust me!?"

Raz winced. "Look, Lili..." He began.

"No, Raz. I don't want to hear about how you can't tell me whatever," The brunette cut him off. "I want to know what's up with you! It used to be you could tell me anything... why are you suddenly not talking!? It used to be you'd always, always tell me things, you never kept secrets from me! If there was a problem, we worked it out! Why have you changed, Raz!?"

"Change?" Raz's brow furrowed. "I haven't changed..."

Lili snorted. "You think so? Maybe you can't see it, but you've change. The way you're acting now... it's not the way you normally act, you know? You never talk to me anymore, you're tired all the time, you keep secrets, you suddenly don't want anyone's help... Raz, this isn't you..." She trailed off into silence, biting her lip.

"...What happened to the boy I fell in love with six years ago?"

Raz watched her for a moment, her final words hanging heavily in the air. "Lili... I..." He trailed off, looking to his feet. He couldn't meet her gaze. "Maybe I have changed. I'm not sure. But if I have... I promise, it has nothing to do with you. I want to tell you what's going on, I do... but I can't. Not yet, because I'm not even entirely sure myself what's going on here," He really, honestly, wished he could tell Lili. He missed having her to confide in. But he knew if he did, that would only make her want to stay more. And he couldn't have that, that was like shoving her right in front of... well, whatever it was that his dreams were hinting at.

He knew he'd be able to take down whatever was in his dreams. He could, he was a psychonaut! But to get his friends, to get his girlfriend hurt in the process... he'd been playing the hero for six years, he couldn't screw up now.

The brunette's gaze hardened, "What do you--"

"Lili, please," Raz cut her off. "Just... just be quiet and listen to what I have to say, okay?"

Lili fell silent, her nails digging into her palms as her fists tightened.

"Look... I know I haven't been telling you much lately, and I'm sorry. I want to tell you everything, I really do, but I can't," Raz said, shaking his head. "You'll just have to trust me when I say I can't be with you right now, because if I do, you'll get hurt. And I love you too much to let that happen. So I can't be near you, can't kiss you... because if I do, I won't be able to tell you to leave. And you have to leave, Lili. You have to leave."

Lili stared at him, her face softening slightly. "Raz..." She whispered, stepping towards him.

Raz shook his head again, fists clenching. "No, Lili. You have to leave. Please just... just... you have to understand! You have to! You'll get hurt! I don't want to be responsible for that! How could I live with myself knowing I let my girlfriend stay here and get herself killed!? I can't do that! I can't!" He cried, his voice rising in pitch as he spoke. "I'll work it out, alright? I-I'll work it out and when I do we can... I don't know, but right now you have to get out of here!"

"Raz..." Lili repeated, reaching out to touch his arm. He immediately brushed her away.

"No, Lili! Don't you get it!? You have to stay away from me! You have to, okay? You have you get out of here, because if you don't you'll get hurt and I won't be able to do a damn thing about it!" He cried, turning away from her, his shoulders shaking slightly. He couldn't meet her eyes anymore, every time he did it brought back memories of those same eyes staring at from from a whirlwind of flames, those same eyes pleading to him from the depths of dark water.

Every time he saw those eyes, he saw her dying, and he couldn't do a damn thing about it. That was what scared him most, the thought of being so helpless. He wanted to ask for her help. He wanted her there. But he couldn't... if he was helpless to work things out for himself, how could he possibly help her?

"Just... just leave. Please, Lili. Just leave." He pleaded before finally falling silent.

All was quiet for a moment. Then without warning her arms came up from behind him, circling his shoulders. "Raz," She whispered soothingly, inhaling his scent. "Relax."

Raz stiffened. "Lili..." He mumbled. "Please--"

"No, you be quiet and listen this time," She said softly, cutting him off, her breath tickling his ear. "I know you're scared for me. I know. I don't know why, and I know you're not going to tell me, because you're afraid if you let anyone get involved this time they'll get hurt. And you don't want that, because it goes against your stupid heroic ways. But you can't always play the hero, Raz. Sometimes you need help, and it's okay to let us."

"Lili, that's not--"

"Shut up," She admonished, her arms tightening around him. "Just shut up and listen, Raz. I know you're scared for me... but I can take care of myself, Raz. And I'm going to help you, whether you like it or not. I don't know what's going on with you, I don't know what's happened... but we'll get through this together... you got that, idiot?"

He bit his lip, shivering slightly. However, he said nothing, he just stayed there, keeping his gaze fixed on the moon above, trying to ignore the warmth of her arms around him.

She wasn't going to listen to him. She was staying. He hadn't tried hard enough. And he knew now, even if he tried, he wouldn't mean it anymore... because he'd failed in keeping away.

Damn it all.

The brunette let out a soft sigh, holding him for another moment, then released him, stepping away, though her hand remained entwined with his for a moment. "Raz, look at me," She pleaded.

He didn't move.

"Raz..." She started, then sighed and tried again. "I talked to Oleander, he's going to let me be a counselor here. I'm staying."

"...Fine," He mumbled dully.

Lili squeezed his hand lightly, trying to get some sort of reaction. A few seconds ticked by, however, and she finally gave up. She stood up on tiptoes, as over the years he had finally grown to have a few inches on her, and kissed him lightly on the cheek. "I love you."

No reply. Her shoulders slumped, her apathetic mask falling back into place.

"Good night, Raz," She whispered, though the emotion that had been in her previous statement was gone.

"...Night."

She released his hand, then turned and walked back towards the counselor's cabins.

Even with his sweater and scarf, Raz couldn't help but find that summer night was oddly cold.

Step one, you say "We need to talk"

He walks, you say "Sit down it's just a talk".

He smiles politely back at you,

You stare blankly right on through.

Some sort of window to your right,

As he goes left and you stay right.

Between the lines of fear and blame,

And you begin to wonder why you came.

How To Save A Life – The Fray

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To Be Continued...

Alright guys, here's the deal. You should review... unless, you know, you'd like some nice Turtle Soup. (Gestures to Mr.Pokeylope in a pot over the stove).